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Parents' Guide to

The Final Year

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Revealing political documentary has a few intense moments.

Movie NR 2018 89 minutes
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Filmmaker Greg Barker's documentary is both an inspiring portrait of an American leader and a shattering reality check (depending on your politics, of course). With unprecedented access to Obama's foreign policy team in 2016, The Final Year begins with messages of diplomacy and hope as the president's team tries to find peaceful, humanitarian ways to communicate with others and seek solutions. But, as Rhodes explains in one scene, they couldn't foresee a "growing authoritarianism and nationalism."

Barker's camera gets into some very personal spaces, especially when it comes to Rhodes and Power, both of whom seem proud and moved by the privilege of being able to do their work. They struggle with too much to do and too little time, and the movie effectively finds the humanity behind the duty. Briefer interviews with Kerry and Obama himself are also thoughtful and bittersweet. As the film reaches its conclusion, however, viewers who supported Obama are likely to find the movie terribly crushing and bleak. And viewers who opposed him? They probably won't be interested in watching it at all.

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